Curb Your Enthusiasm

“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)

I don’t know what God has against tepidity. I like tepidity sometimes. I even like the word tepid. It sounds mellow but not wishy-washy, kind of like the British, except without the Queen.

I’ll grant you that some things don’t go over well when they’re lukewarm. Coffee, for instance. That’s either got to be hot or iced; anything in between is sewage. Ice cream has to be cold, otherwise it’s just cream. Hamburgers must be hot. A cold hamburger may be edible, but it’s definitely not something you’re going to head to the drive-thru for. (I’ve never eaten a burger at an Arctic Circle for this very reason.) You don’t want a lukewarm reception either, especially if you’re running for office. And if you’re a performer, lukewarm applause is nothing to write home about.

But when it comes to religion, it seems to me that tepidity is a good thing. First of all, most of the problems we have with religion are because of fanatics—the hot people. These people take the God thing way overboard and end up doing crazy stuff like blowing things up or accosting innocent pagans and infidels with the Good News that they’re all going to hell. Zealots give religion a bad name. It’s a good thing that most of them either eventually mellow out or get killed, which I think is God’s way of hinting that he really didn’t like them all that much either.

Another reason why I support halfheartedness when it comes to religion is that it’s nearly impossible to maintain any kind of spiritual fervor for more than a few hours at most. Flaky people (and those paid to be religious, which is flaky too, if you think about it) might be able to pull it off for a little longer, but most of us can only handle religious devotion in brief installments, which is why God gave us holidays and one-minute Bibles. Because of this, I think it’s a good idea to average out your religious hots and colds. Sure, you might have a spiritual spike here and there (church, marriage, children, etc.) and will no doubt have your share of religious crashes (church, marriage, children, etc.), but if you aim for the lukewarm middle road you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and keep from making more enemies than you need.

So why God would get all uppity about lukewarm religion is beyond me. If you were to take him at face value (which is hard to do since he’s invisible and tends to exaggerate a lot), you would conclude that he likes “cold” people just as much as “hot” people. So apparently God-hating atheists—an oxymoron for sure—have as much of a chance to stay in his mouth as the smiley over-the-top Jesus people do. Apparently devil Nazis are good God food too. Maybe they’re like religious Tabasco or something. It seems that only the moderates get their butts spewed out of the great metaphysical orifice.

Frankly, I’m kind of miffed that I would be judged by something as random as personal taste, even if that person happens to be God. Just because he doesn’t like lukewarm doesn’t mean nobody does. Besides, I’m very comfortable with my tepid religion; it works for me. Not only that, my friends can hardly tell that I even have a religion, a bonus for sure. I would think that this should at least count for something.

But with God, you never know.


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